By Tyler Clifton
For the Decatur Daily

There's a strong chance at least some of Nivada Spurlock's love for basketball arrived at birth. After all, her father is from Kentucky, and his daughter wasn't too bad at the game herself.

"It's such an honor to even be mentioned in the same category with these people," Spurlock said. "I remember my dad taking me to the gym to watch Jane Nelson (Fields) play, and she was such an incredible athlete and person. Mr. Maples was one of the icons, and everyone made such an impact."

Spurlock did the same, being thrust into the limelight at an early age as a freshman backup point guard. "We weren't very good in middle school, so to be a 14-year-old kid looking in the post and seeing a 6-foot-3 inch athlete such as Vickie Orr staring at you, it was a little intimidating," Spurlock said.

The end result was the 1984 state championship, but what happened next would change Spurlock forever.

She found herself starting one year later after her teammate blew out a knee the previous summer. Hartselle still had its centerpiece in Orr, and Spurlock never missed a beat on the way to another title. "I didn't care if I scored two points or 22 points," Spurlock said. "I just wanted to win."

Hartselle coach Jerry Reeves retired a winner. Spurlock describes him as the "Nick Saban" of his era due to his structured practices, focus on discipline, game-time management and the way he demanded respect.

John Cochran followed Reeves as head coach. Cochran vividly remembers her senior year the most, when he asked Spurlock to move from her normal point guard spot to shooting guard to help fill a vacancy.

"We wanted to get her more looks from a shooting standpoint, and Nivada had such a great attitude when it came to making the move," Cochran said. "She was one of the hardest workers I was associated with in my 21 years of coaching and was relentless when it came to her work ethic. She's a person of character, integrity, honesty and respect and was one of the top students in the Hartselle High class of 1987."
Spurlock took the same approach to the court in college at North Alabama and later as a coach when she turned Fairfield into a Birmingham-area power with a 289-141 record before moving to Homewood in 1995.

Spurlock soaks it all in with plenty of memories, including recent trips to Kentucky's Rupp Arena and Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium with her father. She can soon add another one to her list.

"I'm overwhelmed, because I was just an average athlete with a really good work ethic," Spurlock said. "I never played professionally, but athletics have always been part of me and woven me into who I am."

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